Impacts of the War
How does the war in Ukraine affect EUSTORY History Competition Projects in Eastern Europe? More than a month after Russia started its attack on Ukraine, EUSTORY’s project partners of the DVV International cooperation share their perspective on the war and talk about impacts on their project activities.
Against the background of the war in Ukraine, the Armenian project team just implemented three Spring Schools for teachers and students in Shirak, Tavush and Yerevan which dealt with a subject that acquired new topicality: the Soviet Past. The concept of these schools included three parts: a puzzle game (groups assembled photos out of a puzzle and discussed one aspect of the Soviet Past depicted on it), a discussion on the language policy of USSR with an expert in the field and a poster presentation of the research methods applied by participants in their research. In total 33 teachers and 212 students from the three regions participated in the Spring Schools.
"All participants emphasised the importance of such events in terms of exchanging experiences, gaining new knowledge, making friends, and feeling part of a big programme – especially in these challenging times."
Tatevik Asryan, Project Coordinator, DVV International Armenia
"This war is very important for Georgia, as it directly correlates to our country, it is the continuation of what Putin started in 2008 in Georgia and then 2014 in Ukraine. A lot of non-military volunteers are going to Ukraine and helping as they can – doctors or just people to help the refugees. We have a lot of points here in Georgia where we gather humanitarian help for Ukraine. A lot of hotels are free for Ukrainian people here, we are trying to show our solidarity. From the first day of war, demonstrations started in Georgia, I personally attended a lot of them. At one such demonstration in Tbilisi Selenskyj addressed us in a live broadcast. (…)
As to the future impact – it already has started – a big wave of Russians fleeing the sanctions are coming to Georgia. Experts talk about the upcoming economic crisis, following the crisis in Russia.
We all hope that the Ukrainian nation will have peace and freedom soon. They have so much deserved it. And we hope we deserve it too, after all the struggles we had with Russia.
Regarding our ongoing History Competition: it’s possible that due to the war in Ukraine our competition topic "The Soviet Past" will attract even more attention than it already attracted before the Russian attack. We’ll see.”
Mariam Kereselidze, Project Coordinator, DVV International Georgia
"As we are currently collecting competition entries, we are not very sure what will be the challenges in assessing the current past – the break-up of the Soviet Union - as well as immediate history – the war in Ukraine. However, the nostalgic attitudes that are recurring in Moldovan society again and again may be augmented by the conflict in Ukraine. Russian media and propaganda are surprisingly present in Moldova and have an impressive coverage. Until the break out of the war, effects were not that obviously ‘dangerous’. The active war phase motivates people to take attitudes, and pro-Putin views are also expressed among adults. It will probably not take long until younger generation will embrace this rhetoric.”
Adela Scutaru-Gutu, Country Director, DVV International Moldova
“It so happened that workshops for young people started in Moldova exactly on 24 February. After about six hours from the first bombardments, when media was already exploding with news from Ukraine, students and teachers in one particular region in Moldova were absolutely unaware of military operations happening at a distance of about 500 km from them. It is astonishing how quickly people can get involved emotionally into current events, but also how someone can stay apart. The competition entries we are expecting will help us elaborate on these issues.”
Aliona Badiur, Project Coordinator, DVV International Moldova
"During the first week of this war, there was no time for any work. Looking back, I can’t understand what exactly constituted my days apart from doom-scrolling, constant fears for my family, and watching TV all day long. I had a brief call with my colleague Petro from ‘NOVA DOBA’ in Lviv; it was the 27th of February, exactly two days before a deadline for our competition in Ukraine. We postponed it for one month. One month later, we had a call again, and yet again, we had no choice but to defer that deadline in the hope that all would go back to normal by mid-May. Usually, I move a lot. In Kyiv, with our office in city center, I would take my laptop and coffee, put on earphones and wander around cafes and parks, answering emails, organising zoom calls. Now, there is not much space for that in this small village where I’m taking refuge. Now, one can put on earphones, provided one is not afraid of possible airstrikes.
A couple of days ago, I was expected to deliver a short presentation on my project’s latest developments at the EUSTORY Annual Network Meeting. I started checking everything – our website, podcast profile, and email. To my astonishment, I realised that since February 24 – since the beginning of the all-out invasion – we had received several research entries. One of them was from Enerhodar – a small town in South Ukraine that woke up famous after the Russian army had shelled the local Nuclear Power Plant. The entry contained a photo of a group of young people and – apparently – their teachers, standing against the backdrop of a (seemingly) soviet mosaic. I can’t imagine what kind of dedication it took them to finalise and submit that entry despite a full-fledged war exploding around them. But I know that for several moments I lost my breath."
Andriy Fert, Historian, Project Coordinator, DVV International Ukraine
DVV International Bonn
"The outbreak of the war in Ukraine has many negative effects on the History Competitions project. Even though project activities cannot be implemented the way we initially intended, it is overwhelming to see that our colleagues and partners stay committed even in such hard times. Additionally, the networks that were established in the region over the past five years offer support for our Ukrainian colleagues and partners – morally and practically. Activities that were initially planned in Ukraine shall now take place in one of the other project countries. It is great that solidarity and support is organised on so many different levels.
Of course, our thoughts are with our colleagues, partners, project participants, and all people in Ukraine. We hope that, in the near future, we can continue our work on dealing with the past in a free and peaceful Ukraine as it will be needed more than ever."
Barbara Hust, Project Management Foreign Office, DVV International Bonn